I recently came across a post by @gaytimes which spotlighted 5 Queer Artists of Colour, a list that I was very pleased to see. I was interested to delve deeper into their lives online, so here is a brief extension of the original piece on Gay Times — from cyberpunk-esque nonbinary artists, to artists who call Kanye out to his own beat.
“Exploring desire, satire and intimacy, it’s never been so easy to curate a soundscape that makes queer people of colour feel seen and celebrated all at the same time.”Rosel Jackson Stern
1 – Dua Saleh | @doitlikedua | 9.9K Followers
Two interesting/lesser-known facts about Dua Saleh: (1) their background is in poetry, and (2) their first language is Arabic. As a creative, Saleh tackles issues like gender politics, self-identity, diaspora, and more. According to an interview earlier this year, they talk about their craft as a “soundscape for emotions, texture, and memories”.
As a non-binary artist, the hashtag on her posts that experienced the highest engagement is for #nationalcomingoutday.
Additionally, despite being the smallest of all the artists covered in this list, they benefit from a very high engagement rate of 12.84%, which is 3 times higher than the industry average for nano influencers in the US.
Their feed reflects a very cyberpunk meets high fashion aesthetic and I am very here for it.
2 – Dope Saint Jude | @dopesaintjude | 14.3K Followers
@highsnobiety once called Dope Saint Jude the “South African Drag King Keeping Rap Queer” and for the life of me I couldn’t think of a better way to describe her.
This is her Top Performing post on Instagram and aptly talks about representations of femininity, which is something Saint Jude explores through her work. It performed at a 10.6% engagement rate, which is more than double her average.
Saint Jude also has one of the most diverse followings of all the artists here.
Her feed constantly features a number of her international drag king & queen friends, so it is no surprise that she attracts such a widespread audience. Her work highlights the disparity between “heteronormative” and “queer hip hop”, but also points towards the fact that is is slowly changing.
Fun Fact: her drag king aesthetic is based on Lil Wayne!
3 – Amaarae | @amaarae | 26.7K Followers
Ama Serwah Genfi, who is otherwise known as Amaarae or warrior princess, is a 25 year old Ghanaian musician. Majority of her followers, however, come from Nigeria and the US, which is where she was primarily raised.
Like the other artists covered so far, Amaarae’s work deals with a “taboo topic” in society. In her case, it is sex.
“Her lyrics are inspired by intimacy — sex, kissing, hand-holding — but she mainly uses her imagination in her explicit and uninhibited lyricism. It’s definitely bedroom music, to which couples can perform the physical connections she describes on her songs.”Konbini.com
For example, take a look at this album art that is at once yonic, as well as 80s inspired.
There is a great deal of vision that goes into her art and discography, so it is no wonder that she pulls a 14.6% Engagement Rate which is almost 5 times more than the industry average. Of all the artists listed here, her audience has also been growing notably fast an average rate of 5.19%.
4 – Raveena | @raveena_aurora | 136.3K Followers
Raveena’s main goal is to create space for fellow South Asian Americans who often feel caught between two cultures, lifestyles, philosophies etc. — as many Third Culture Kids do.
The most impressive thing about Raveena’s Instagram activity is the fact that she gained more than 25K followers in December 2019, leading to a 22.6% audience growth rate.
This makes sense considering her Top Liked post of the year features at about the same time.
Raveena speaks a lot to femininity, the feminine body, womanhood and experiences that are uniquely feminine. This explains why the majority (54%) of her followers are female.
South Asian culture and queer culture don’t necessarily mix very well in a contemporary sense, and it is interesting to see Raveena use her figure as an artist to challenge dated prejudices.
5 – CHIKA | @chikalogy | 842.3K Followers
Jane Chika Oranika, or better known to her fans as CHIKA, is 22 years old and has had one hell of a year. She rose to fame earlier this year when her video “An Open Letter to Kanye Omari West” which called Kanye out for his open endorsement of Trump’s policies went viral. Two things that were sick about this video: 1) she rapped her letter over a Kanye beat, 2) who knew his middle name was Omari??
Her audience grew quite immensely after this incident, as reflected in the chart below:
Which obviously helped propel her career in the music world.
Apart from her swift and steady entrance into the music world, CHIKA also posed for @calvinklein this year, which was regarded as a big win for queer, plus-sized women of colour. It is her Top Liked and Top Commented post of 2019.
She is currently considered a macro-influencer by US industry standards, but we won’t be surprised to see her grow rapidly in the coming year.
🏳️🌈 We’re Here & We’re Queer 🏳️🌈
Representation is so important. I hope this article shone some necessary light on an often underrepresented community, both in real life and online.
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